New scaffold advice highlights ‘collective' safety measures

31 October 2008

Telescoping guard rails are one example of collective measures covered by the new guidance.

Telescoping guard rails are one example of collective measures covered by the new guidance.

The National Access & Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) in the UK has published new safety guidance to highlight the use of collective forms of fall prevention - such as advance guardrails and powered aerial platforms - during erection and dismantling of scaffolding.

NASC said the interim guidance note (SG4:05 Appendix A) was required because in the three years since the publication of SG4:05 "collective protection measures have developed considerably in terms of technology, choice, availability, cost, and probably most importantly, have become more user friendly." The interim guidance is being published in advance of the next scheduled update of the SG4:05 user guide in 2010.

The guidance, which can be downloaded free at, gives details of collective measures such as powered aerial platforms, advance guardrails, step-up devices and scaffolders working platforms.

The UK's Work at Height Regulations require that contractors consider a hierarchy of safety measures when undertaking work at height, with collective forms of prevention to be considered before personal devices such as fall arrest harnesses.

The NASC guidance also describes the measures to be considered higher up the hierarchy - before even collective measures are used. These include avoiding work at height completely, such as placing pre-assembled guardrails by crane and aerial platforms.

NASC added, however, that "even with these very positive advances in developing technology, it is still the view of the NASC & HSE [Health & Safety Executive] that scaffolders will still be required to wear suitable fall arrest equipment at all times whilst working because of the tasks associated with moving working platforms, undertaking alterations and performing non standard tasks such as fitting ladder/unit beams etc."

NASC has distributed over 130000 copies of the SG04 user guides since 2000, and said it was proud of the impact it had had on the scaffolding industry in the UK; "Since its introduction in 2000 the NASC has seen a 40% reduction in the number of falls recorded from a scaffold/working platform - from 27 in 2001 to 17 in 2007.

"This reduction is in spite of a 17.5% increase in the number of operatives working within the NASC membership, from 11950 in 2001 to 14029 in 2007. During this period, no fatal accident occurred whilst operatives were working within the requirements of SG4 safe systems of work."

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